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Monday, 29 February 2016

Triumphant Trumbo or Hideous Hedda?

No Oscar for Best Typewriting Performance was handed out last night at the 88th Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Had there been one, Bryan Cranston would have romped it in, with comfortably the finest cinematic typing display since Paul Dano in 2012's Ruby Spark. Both, it might be added, were well armed for such credible and sustained efforts - Cranston with an Underwood 5 and Dano with an Olympia SM9.
As it was, Cranston even failed to take home the Best Actor Oscar, for his portrayal of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo. I have not seen Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass in The Revenant, nor am I now likely to. But I did take in Trumbo, two days before the Oscars, and left the cinema less than convinced that Cranston was a genuine contender. As things transpired, I also caught DiCaprio at a typewriter or two (like Cranston, both manual and electric) on TV the next night, in 2002's Catch Me if You Can, and he wasn't in the same league as Dano or Cranston. Far be it for me, however, to deny DiCaprio his long-awaited best actor gong.
The thing about Cranston in Trumbo is that, for all his fine typing, he had the show stolen right out from under his cigarette holder by the indomitable Helen Mirren as Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper
So one was left wondering, as the credits rolled, whether this movie was really about the ultimate triumph of Trumbo or more tellingly about the intimidating influence of the absolutely horrid, hissing Hedda. Talk about the Wicked Witch of the West - the meddling Hopper comes across as that in spades.
 Mirren as Hopper, above, and the real Hopper below:
And Hopper in bed with her Olivetti Lettera 22:
One thing certain about Trumbo is that there hasn't been an on-screen typewriter fest like this since Hitchcock (also from 2012, and which also starred an influential Mirren). After all, nothing beats a typewriter in a movie than two (or three):
And, whatever damage it may have done to the facts of the matter - or to Edward G.Robinson's reputation, by claiming he was a stool pigeon - Trumbo did at least try to stay true to Trumbo's typewriters:
My favourite performance in Trumbo came from New Zealander Dean O'Gorman as a dependable if slightly height challenged Kirk Douglas (with the ever-reliable John Goodman close behind):

1 comment:

Joe V said...

We had watched Trumbo last night at home, instead of the Oscars. I too haven't seen The Revenant, so I can't compare Cranston's acting with DeCaprio's. I was impressed with Cranston's ability to transform himself into another person, given that I'm most familiar with his work in the TV series Breaking Bad. It was indeed a fun movie, just for the typewriter spotting.

~Joe Van Cleave